So on Saturday, Daniel and I left the Loj late.
This isn’t that strange for us, and it was a quite nice way to start the day… a day that wasn’t looking particularly pleasant, if we’re being honest. See, the whole weekend was blanketed in clouds and a low hanging fog that just coated everything in a thin mist of water. Not a bad thing for hiking, but for climbing? Yeah. Not so ideal.
But we headed to the cars regardless, jumped in the Mustang, and headed toward North Conway to meet up with Cathedral, a cliff face that I’ve grown to know and love.
Our target was a climb called Funhouse, which would be two pitches to what’s called the “Refuse Ledge”, which would then lead to two pitches of climbing called Upper Refuse, after which we’d summit out on a short 45ft climb. Sounds fun, and we stuck with it nearly exactly… with a few minor exceptions.
- Pitch 1 = Funhouse – 5.7, 150ft – Daniel took the first lead, and it was quite fun. I had more trouble than I’d like to admit though… Today was definitely a “high gravity day”, meaning that every move felt harder than it should. My lack of sleep may have been it, but I’m kind of convinced that it was the thin mist cloying around the cliff.
- Pitch 2 = Pooh – 5.8, 170ft – I took the lead here, and I regretted it. We were going to do pitch 2 of Funhouse, but this was simpler to get to, and the line was quite obvious. And it was very fun, but much harder than I thought it would be. I went up assuming that my guidebook was right with a 5.7… but I learned recently that it’s since been re-graded as a 5.8. Oops. Still. I finished, and enjoyed myself once I got into the flow of it.
- Pitch 3 = Upper Refuse – 5.3, 100ft??? – Daniel took the lead on this strange setup… it’s a three pitch route, but Daniel and I only did it in two. Because three pitches to do 200’ would be silly. So ratings… not so sure about it. Either way – seconding was quite fun, and this was a very enjoyable hand-crack system going nearly straight upward. Well… except for the terrifyingly exposed face / slab move. Which was done in the mist. So friction wouldn’t work. Yeah. I’m glad Daniel led.
- Pitch 4 = Upper Refuse – 5.5, 100ft??? – I took the final leg here, and again slightly regretted it. This time there were a few different options on routes to take, and I ended up floundering between the two for nearly 20min before I finally just sacked up and made the moves. From there it was nice and easy… until the last slab move of course. Notice a pattern here?
- Summit pitch = ??? – 5.2, 45ft – Daniel led this last mini-pitch, and it was a fun and simple way to get to the observation area of Cathedral.
Once we were at the summit we chatted with a few tourists (who of course thought we were the bee’s knees and/or insane), and relaxed with the semi-interesting view of the clouds coming down past the presidential range. It was nice, and relaxing, and a good reward for the climbing we’d just busted out.
From here we walked down to the access road and started the weary trudge back to where we’d left our gear at the base of the cliff. On the walk we ran into two cars though – one minivan where the father asked us to explain our gear to his sons, and one tiny accord who offered us a ride back down to our car. We took them both up on their offers, and the walk down was made nearly as enjoyable as the climb up.
Ohh! And Daniel found a small pink shovel. That is important to note.